The Cats entered Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium as 27-point underdogs. They left with the Governor’s Cup.
The upset victory was unbelievable. Even the most devout fans struggled to believe Kentucky could pull off the upset to snap the five-game losing streak to Louisville. To win UK needed to play a complete game in all three aspects — offense, defense and special teams — and take advantage of every opportunity presented. They did exactly that. Kentucky played the best football we’ve seen all season, mitigating mistakes while taking advantage of Louisville’s.
It’s been two days but I’m still in shock. Before we begin to move on, we must revisit the wonderful Saturday afternoon.
1. “A Giant Step in the Right Direction”
Those were the words an emotional Mark Stoops used to describe Saturday’s win. He couldn’t have been happier for his players, especially the seniors, who were finally reaping rewards from their hard work. Regardless of what happened, his team fought till the end. At halftime he simply told them to finish.
“Every guy in there, every person in the locker room believed that. Win or lose, we were gonna lay it on the line. That’s what I was proud of.”
The Cats only gave up seven points in the final 21 minutes and forced four turnovers in the Cards’ final five drives.
2. Stephen Johnson was Fantastic
A different Stevie Got Loose Saturday at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. The JUCO transfer began the year as a backup and ended it by outplaying the Heisman Trophy frontrunner.
From the first snap Johnson was in command, hitting Juice Johnson for a 75-yard touchdown, the first of three touchdown passes. Johnson completed 59% of his passes for 338 yards and rushed for 83 yards (something no UK quarterback has ever done), accounting for 421 yards of offense to earn the Howard Schnellenberger MVP award.
An amazing stat from Jeff Drummond: Johnson finished the regular season 1st in the SEC and 8th nationally in yards per completion at 14.78.
3. Stoops Picked up a $250,000 Bonus
Stoops doesn’t have a “beat Louisville for a quarter million” clause in his contract. This bonus is for winning seven games in a season. It’s the most wins in a regular season since 2009 and ensures Kentucky will finish with a winning record.
4. Did You See Lamar do the Heisman?
5. A Return to the Music City?
Freddie and I believed last week the Cats were either going to Birmingham or Memphis, the latter if Ole Miss lost. Ole Miss did lose, so did Arkansas, Tennessee and Georgia. Based on that, the timing and location of the bowl games, Nashville appears to be the most likely location.
It’s new territory for many of us, including Mark Stoops. “Jimbo (Fisher) got a laugh when I called his secretary and said, ‘I need that bowl schedule,'” Stoops said with a laugh after the game.
Before the schedule is finalized, you can request for your bowl game tickets through UK here.
6. Fans Celebrated with the Team
Hundreds of fans greeted the team in the Gate 12 plaza between the training center and Commonwealth Stadium to create a special scene. Mark Stoops briefly spoke to the crowd, telling them “Never flinch!” before Jojo Kemp took the mic and went wild. It’s a moment few will ever forget. Relive it all here.
7. The Podcast from the Postgame Show is Magnificent
Nothing captured the euphoria of the Big Blue Nation following Kentucky’s win over Louisville quite like the KSR Postgame Show. An older woman threw shade at Bobby, another caller sang songs, and Chester preached through tears before the UK marching band closed the show by singing the fight song on the bus ride home. It’s an hour of radio no UK fan can afford to miss.
8. The Coaches are on the Road
Stoops’ staff didn’t have much time to celebrate. They were on the road by 10:00 Sunday morning, spending this week on the recruiting trail. “We’re hitting the pavement hard. We got to keep getting some good players,” he said after the game.
Stoops said he’ll be smiling until Saturday when their big week on the road is capped off with their biggest official visit day of the year. Many of Stoops’ top targets will be on campus for UK’s game against UCLA. We’ll keep you updated on where the coaches are and who they’re seeing throughout the week.
9. The Win Came on a Significant Date in UK History
Saturday marked five years since Matt Roark quarterbacked Kentucky to a victory over Tennessee. Unbelievable.
10. Cal’s Cats are in the Bahamas
Normally the top story, they’ve temporarily taken a backseat to football. They’ll return to centerstage tonight at 7:00 on ESPN2 against Arizona State.
Matt and the gang will preview the game and discuss this amazing weekend in just one short hour.